The Corolla was beautiful. It was a brand new silver 2005 S-Type, and the summer sun reflected off every chrome facet – the paint, the rims, the license plate liner. It lured me in every way. I wanted to sit in it all day, just to take in the scent of new car. Its spedometer stared me down, begging for mileage. It needed experience. So did I.
I don’t remember when we decided to make the trip, but it had been on my mind for quite some time. Ever since I read “Confederates in the Attic” for my “Future of the News” class that past spring, I wanted to wind down I-95 through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. I wanted a new place to love.
I had my AAA trip tick to plot out my journey (It is in my nature to go from Point A to Point B with a plan). I didn’t think I could handle 14 hours in the car, but the company and the book (“Adventures with the Archdruid” in preparation for Hilton Head, South Carolina) ranked as important a part of the trip as the places themselves.
First came Richmond. Then Charleston (Fort Sumter in a storm is a frightening place). Then Hilton Head, as dictated by the AAA planner.
Then, unexpectedly, Savannah.
It wasn’t on the AAA map. It wasn’t part of the plan.
But there I was one day, in the park where Forest Gump was filmed, in Mercer House where Jim Williams murdered Danny Hansford, in a city whose beauty spared it from the incineration of the merciless General William Sherman during the Civil War.
And I never would have been there if I hadn’t decided to just go. Yes, I was off course, but I was gaining experience.
The entire trip was about experience. It was about seeing those places I had read about. About picking up and going and finding a new goal, a new passion, a new part of me.
That is why I urge you all to just go this Spring Break. Don’t just sit at home and work or read. Well, read, but then visit the city where the story took place. Or break in that new car.
Don’t be afraid to go off course. When you are steered in a new direction, you will be surprised what you can learn – not just about a place, but also about yourself.
I came away with a lot more mileage (2,000 on the Corolla and about a million on my soul), and passion for something new.
It is amazing how much a week can change things. Take advantage of that opportunity.
As for the Corolla, I totaled it about a month and a half after the road trip through the South. Of course, that wasn’t part of the plan. I stared at the wreckage, a twisted, dull mass that could no longer reflect the summer sun.
But when the new 2005 Corolla S-Type sat in my driveway with 0 miles on its spedometer, I knew I was ready to ramble on. I had millions of other places to see.